It must have been a devastating blow. Charles Darrow was jobless. However, he had an idea. In fact, he had a board game. He liked the board game and felt it was his ticket to financial success and out of the desperation of the depression. Darrow had taken his game to the famous Parker Brothers game company to release and help him market.
The Parker Brothers had agreed to look at the board game for Darrow. They were not impressed. Founded in 1883, by 16-year-old George Parker, the game publishing company had been producing and selling games and puzzles for 51 years. During that time they’d seen success and failure. Parker Brothers understood the game business. They knew what worked and what did not. They knew what sold and what did not. Representatives of this giant game company found 59 reasons why they did not believe Darrow’s game could be successful.
Charles Darrow simply did not agree. He believed. He decided to print Monopoly himself and promote it through department stores. He had 5,000 copies of the board game printed.
Hope was rare during that unpleasant Christmas of 1934. And, Monopoly was a hit. Nearly all 5,000 copies of the board game offered. It was the best selling game in the united states by 1936.
Monopoly is now published in 89 languages and over 200 million copies of the board game have been sold. More than 500 million people have played the game. In addition, it has been adapted as a digital game. Monopoly is firmly entrenched as the best selling board game of all time.
Monopoly is a relative upstart compared to other popular board games.
The oldest known board game is called”The Royal Game of Ur” or the”Game of 20 Squares”. This game was discovered at a 4,500-year-old tomb in southern Iraq. This game was played throughout the Middle East for perhaps 1,000 years or more. In fact, the rules of this game have been found in cuneiform tablets. Game aficionados can play this ancient game yet now, though it has long ago faded from popularity.
Perhaps the oldest board game still popular today is chess, which first appeared in India from the sixth century A.D. From the year 1,000 it had been played throughout the Middle East and in Europe. They could hardly have dreamed, however, of the world class chess game play or the digital versions of the game we enjoy now.
Another very old, yet exceptionally popular board game is checkers, also known as draughts. A form of checkers was being played by the Egyptian Pharaohs as early as 1600 B.C.. By the 12th century the game was adapted to the 64-square chessboard. Four hundred years after the rules involving capture were added, producing essentially the same game we play now.
There’s just no way to tell how many copies of chess or checkers have been sold or how many individuals have played these games. If the numbers have been known, they would need to be truly staggering.
Popular Board Games Share Common Traits
Other top selling board games include Yahtzee, Scrabble, Mahjong, Trivial Pursuit, Battleship and the Risk game. The majority of these games have been developed throughout the 20th century and all are still big sellers and tremendously popular.
These popular board games share some similar traits. Most of them involve specific strategies of play. When these strategies are employed successfully, the games are fun, challenging and intensely rewarding as players try to capture portions of the board or every other. Another common element in most of these board games is chance, or luck. The element of opportunity opens up possibilities for even more strategies of play. A final important trait of these games is that in one way or another they reflect the lessons of life. They teach competition and sportsmanship. They teach strategy and the lesson of not giving up.
Perhaps that is why Charles Darrow was so attracted to Monopoly. He considered that success comes by employing sound strategies to after a dream and never giving up. We are glad that Darrow did not give up. We are glad he didn’t throw the board game with 59 things wrong in the trash bin as he left the Parker Brothers plant in 1934.